Asia Argento has denied the claims made in an explosive New York Times article this weekend, reporting from documents showing that Argento paid a $380,000 settlement to a young actor who accused her of sexually assaulting him when he was 17 years old and she was 37.
The Italian actress and director, an outspoken leader of the #MeToo movement, gave a statement to freelance reporter Yashar Ali, who contributes to New York Magazine and the Huffington Post. In the statement, Argento denies having a had a sexual relationship with her accuser Jimmy Bennett, and claims that her late boyfriend Anthony Bourdain insisted on a private settlement, which he funded, to protect their privacy.
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) August 21, 2018
“Anthony insisted the matter be handled privately and this was also what Bennett wanted,” Argento said in the statement.
“Anthony was afraid of the possible negative publicity that such person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us. We decided to deal compassionately with Bennett’s demand for help and give it to him. Anthony personally undertook to help Bennett economically, upon the condition that we would no longer suffer any further intrusions in our life.”
Argento, one of dozens of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, said in her statement that her relationship with Bennett was “friendship” only, and claims that he targeted her because of her boyfriend’s perceived wealth. The New York Times report, published on Sunday, noted that Bennett came forward with a letter of intent to sue after Argento had given an interview to the New Yorker, claiming that Harvey Weinstein raped her at Cannes Film Festival when she was 21 years old.
“His feelings about that day were brought to the forefront recently when Ms. Argento took the spotlight as one of the many victims of Harvey Weinstein,” Bennett’s attorney wrote in the letter of intent obtained by the New York Times.
Bennett reportedly claimed that he met Argento in her Los Angeles-area hotel room in May 13, when he was 17, and that she kissed him, performed oral sex on him, and had sexual intercourse with him after giving him alcohol to drink. The New York Times reportedly obtained photographs showing the two in a bed together, but only one of the photos showed their faces.
Anthony Bourdain took his own life in a hotel room in France in June.
[Feature image: Asia Aregento and Anthony Bourdain/Richard Shotwel via Invision for AP]